Meals Your 6 to 8 Year Old Can Make for Themselves
For some of you reading this hub, you will see nothing but good ideas and a great way to enrich their lives. For others, you might see this hub as a crazy-radical publication full of things you had never even dreamed of doing before with your kids. Either way, I'm glad you're here. I only mention the differences, so that I can have a moment to make sure you're aware that my parenting style is what I call "self-sufficiency parenting". I believe whole heartedly, that our main job as parents is to raise children who grow into fully capable adults who have mastered the basics of daily life, and actually have room to focus on going after true success in their lives, whatever that may mean to them.
It was a few days ago, when I start thinking about writing this hub. I had the opportunity yet again, to teach my son some simple domestic skills, things that most of us adults take for granted. It may not seem like a lot to some, and it may seem like way to much for others, but I feel that as soon as you can help your kids become self-sufficient in the basic daily activities of life, the better. The sooner they are able to feed, wash, take care of their clothes and take part in daily household activities, the more ready they will be for when they are on their own. And once you have those routines mastered, you can focus on more fun topics, like where to go to college, what kind of businesses they can start early on, or what sort of careers they might pursue, how the earth became the earth or why bubbles don't seem to pop when they hit the carpet.. Whatever seems interesting at the moment. =)
Now, I know that one of my previous articles, "Chores Your 2 Year Old Can Do", became a lot more popular than I thought it would be. So I am hoping that you and my other readers will find this hub just as enriching and inspiring as any I've written before. If not, leave me a comment below the hub and let me know what you think. What would you change or what other ideas can you think of to help your kids grow and become more independent?
In this hub, I want to list for you some of the meals that my son has learned to make. He is currently a few months away from being 8 years old, and he started learning to cook/make basic things in the kitchen by the time he was 6. So when I say that "6-8 year olds" can do this, I'm not suggesting that your five year old wouldn't be great at some of them too, or that your 9 year old should absolutely know how to make these things. Each child is different. For some, it takes a great while to be ready for these kinds of responsibilities, and for others, they are mature enough to start out sooner.
So, to start us out, let's go over the list of things that I feel comfortable allowing my son to make unsupervised. Some of them are super simple, and others are a little more nerve wracking on me as a parent, because of even the smallest potential for him to get hurt or make a mess, but they are cooking skills that he has learned well and has yet to make any serious mistakes with.
- Sandwiches - It's simple enough to teach your child where the lunch meat, sliced cheese and condiments are kept. Then it's a simple matter of showing them how to apply their favorite condiments in reasonable portions, then smoosh the two slices of bread together to spread it around. Then there is no need for the use of a butter knife or anything.
- Cereal - Once you feel comfortable that your child can handle pouring the milk into a bowl, then this becomes a fantastic way for them to get breakfast while you hop in the shower in the morning.
- Chili - For this one I usually purchase chili that has a pull-tab lid, though for the non-tabbed cans, I taught my son to use a manual can-opener. It's safer than having them use an electric one and easier to explain. It took a while before I would allow him to open the can of chili without my supervision, but since he already knew how to use the microwave, it was an easy step for him to move into making easy meals from canned items.
- Toast - Once you get past the speeches about not sticking anything other than toast into the toaster, this is a very easy way for your kids to get breakfast or a light midday snack. You can show them how to use a spoon to add butter, jelly or anything else they really like.
- Oatmeal - This one took a bit more time for my son to master, because of the steps involved, but once he did, he was very happy he could make his own oatmeal. You can either teach your kids to make hot water with your coffee maker, or you can show them how long to heat up a cup of water in the microwave, whichever way feels more safe for you and your child. Aside from heating water, the rest is just pouring, stirring and eating.
Obviously our kids are capable of doing just about anything, but there are some things that need a great amount of consistent practice. This is the list of meals your kids are more than capable of cooking WITH your supervision. Let them practice these skills as often as possible. I encourage all my kids to have their own days to make dinner, lunch or treats for the whole family by making meals they are ready to make, but with a bit of supervision.
- Mac & Cheese - The only reason for supervision with this one, is because you'll need to wait for the water to boil, most children have a hard time standing around the kitchen waiting for that to happen, so help them get the water on the stove and once it's ready, supervise them while they make the rest of the meal. Once you both feel more confident with it, show them how many different things they can mix into the mac, like; little smokies, peas, carrots, precooked chicken, hot dogs or even apples.
- Cheeseburgers & Fries - Flipping burgers never was rocket-science. Using a griddle preferably, or a large skillet with high walls, you can help your kids grill some burgers to brown perfection, and make them into delicious burgers. If you have a slider maker or a George Foreman grill, you can have them do it even safer. As for the fries, the hardest part for your kids will be reaching the timer on the oven, and I'm sure you won't mind helping them with that.
- Pancakes & Scrambled Eggs - Making the pancakes is fun for kids, especially when you stir by hand and can pour the pancakes in whatever shape you like. Scrambled eggs is even easier, show them how to crack the egg, retrieve stray shells and stir it constantly while it's cooking. Remind them that the stove and skillet are hot, and have them do each food item one at a time, first the eggs and then the pancakes (because the pancakes cool faster then the eggs).
- Grilled Cheese Sandwiches - The hardest part of this process, is buttering the bread. You can have them do it with a spoon for safety, or they can use a butter knife with your assistance. The rest is mostly flipping the sandwiches until they're golden brown.
- Cakes and Cookies - While I will advocate teaching your kids to make these types of treats from scratch, when you're just starting out, sometimes it's easier to get them into the process by starting out with premixed cookie and cake packages. That way, it's just stirring, pouring and placing in the oven. At this age, they don't usually have the attention span to work on getting the cake out of the pan or icing it, though most kids between 6 and 8, are more than happy to help you place the cookies on a plate to cool.
Tips And Tricks
- Pay attention to your child's natural attention span. The shorter it is, the less you want to give them tasks that require a lot of steps or that take a while.
- If it requires boiling water on the stove or grilling anything, make sure you are supervising them. Most kids have an easy time cooking in the kitchen if they enjoy it, but you need to be there in case they burn themselves or the food.
- Teach your kids how to make their favorite meals and snacks. They'll pay more attention if it's something their fond of, or that they eat regularly.
- Statistics show, that for every meal you can teach your child how to make, you will have lengthened their overall lives by ten years. So make sure you encourage your kids to get into the kitchen.
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